life women in computer science

On Feeling Uninspiring

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a friend about a project she’s involved in. She was looking for me to share my “inspiring story” on being a technical woman.

I said no. Said, got nothing inspiring to say right now. Can’t. Do. It.

And she gave me a pep talk, and I thought about how, in a little while, I would write something that might be inspiring, about how at times it sucks to be a woman in tech, and sometimes we feel that we have nothing good to say, but that we have each other. The tech-woman mafia.

But still, I haven’t written it. Because I still got nothing.

And I sit and watch a panel of interns, and one of them says, “being a woman has never been an issue”, and I think, damn, when did I stop believing that?

Re-read Women Don’t Ask (Amazon) and then wish I hadn’t, because it reminds me that women, we have to play the social game (don’t be selfish, do what is best for others) but that often it seems like being selfish is how people get ahead – you want to do something extraordinary, you’ll probably need to put that project at the top of your list. Trying to please everyone just leads to mediocrity.

I work at a great place for women, I do. But that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t happen most days to make me feel conscious of the fact that I’m something of the odd one out. Sometimes it’s bad – like when someone asks me if I am a product manager (or, suggests I would be a good product manager). Sometimes it’s good, like when the fact that I’m not narrowly focused gets me an opportunity. Some of it is entirely in my head, like when I meet people and make a point of saying I’m a software engineer, just in case they don’t realize – guys don’t feel the need to do this.

Point is, I have good things to say about being in tech, about my job, about where I work, about what I’m going to do next. But not about being a technical woman. I just feel burnt out, uninspired, and uninspiring. Surrounded by straight white males, playing on the easiest game setting (one of the best articles I’ve read about gender) when I’m not always even sure we’re playing the same game, period.

Have you ever felt like this? What did you do?

Super-early bird registration is open to GHC. I’m counting down the days.

2 replies on “On Feeling Uninspiring”

Some days, I completely forget that it’s abnormal to be a woman in our field. Sure, I look and dress different than my coworkers, but I’m still white and that counts for something towards not being a minority, right?

But then someone will assume I’m a project manager or in HR.

You know what I hate the most though? I spend so much time specifically not finding anyone at work attractive that I go on vacation and everyone is attractive. So some days I worry that working with men all day will ruin my relationships (or now while I’m single, make it impossible to actually have one).

I also feel uninspired because I have always known that I wanted to work in software.

I don’t know if I’ll go to Grace Hopper this year – I would have to convince my manager why I should go two years in a row and it’s not super cheap for us like it was last year (I only had like $50 in transportation costs for Portland last year).

Thank you so much for this comment, being a woman surrounded by men all day is impacting my dating life too. Surrounded by guys all day, the last thing I want to do in the evening is meet more, but definitely don’t want to date the guys I work with either! Glad to know it’s not just me :) 

Why does always having known make you feel uninspired?

I should have a new manager by the time GHC comes around, I’m really anxious in case they won’t approve it and wonder if it would be a dealbreaker for me in switching to that team. Been a rough year, I am counting down the days because I feel like last year, I wanted to go, this year? I NEED to go for my own sanity. All those things where you realize, oh this isn’t just me. They have a list of things you can use to help justify the trip to your manager somewhere, if you can’t find it hit me up and I will locate it for you.

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